First Drive: 2011 Dodge Charger

2011 Dodge Charger Front Three Quarters

Amidst the Chrysler Group’s tired and dated 2010 portfolio, the Dodge Charger was easily one of the most compelling cars. Its muscular styling and rear-wheel-drive configuration made for a unique offering in the large car segment. So it’s interesting that while most of the lineup is getting mere updates, the 2011 Dodge Charger is being billed as an all-new car.

More retro
From the street, a more stylized, graphic presentation sets the 2011 Charger apart from the outgoing car. Inspiration comes from the second-generation, 1968–70 Dodge Charger, drawing cues such as the twin hood scallops. That motif is repeated with C-shaped side scallops, which were seen previously on the 1999 concept car. The new face features the revised corporate grille, but the more dramatic change is in back, where there’s a new full-width taillamp treatment, lit by a total of 168 LEDs. While it at times feels too retro and too forced in the context of the rest of the car, it unquestionably makes a strong statement when illuminated at night. Just as significant as the appearance change, though, is the improvement in visibility, achieved thanks to a more angled windshield, thinner pillars, and taller side glass.

A fresh-start interior
Cheap and ugly interiors were a hallmark of Chrysler Group products over the past five years, as company executives, designers, and engineers will readily admit. So, significantly upgraded interiors have been and will continue to be a running theme for the 16 new and refreshed products that Chrysler will deliver in the next two years. In the Charger, that means a new steering wheel, a single-piece dashboard, softer armrests, and new materials. Put simply, the interior now delivers exactly what the Charger should have offered five years ago. The fits are excellent, the materials are nice, and the subdued look is attractive.

In vehicles with the optional 8.4-inch touch screen, physical controls are kept to a minimum with just two knobs for audio adjustment and a handful of buttons and a single dial to adjust the climate control. The rest of the systems then rely heavily on the touch screen, which is nicely organized with large icons and logical menu structures. The available navigation software comes from Garmin, and it will be immediately familiar to anyone who has ever used one of the company’s aftermarket nav units. It’s a smart move on Chrysler’s part to use such a familiar interface, but the graphics look cartoonish, as they’ve simply been scaled up from Garmin’s much smaller displays. A 4.3-inch touch screen without navigation functionality is standard equipment.

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I found good ideas at AutoAnything but wanted to hear ideas from a reviewer
When I went to the LA Auto Show last year, the Charger was one of the most popular rides there. Great review. Can you do a follow up covering the tops mods to outfit on the 2011 charger?

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